Green Lantern Cast Blake Lively Peter Sarsgaard

May 28, 2014 by  

Green Lantern Cast Blake Lively Peter Sarsgaard, Without a Green Lantern film hitting theaters, it’s likely people who aren’t into comic books would never have heard of Hal Jordan, Sinestro or Hector Hammond. But Warner Bros is hoping the uninitiated will jump on board and check out their big-budgeted, CGI effects-filled action epic. Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), Green Lantern has the super charming Ryan Reynolds in the lead, Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively as the main female character, and solid support from Mark Strong as Sinestro and Peter Sarsgaard as the big-headed Hector Hammond.
Together for a press conference in support of the film’s June 17, 2011 release, the cast and director Campbell talked about the challenges of bringing the Green Lantern world to life on the screen:

You brought James Bond back twice, you brought Zorro to modern screens, and now you’re launching this major DC comic book franchise. What is it about you that is ideal for creating and launching new things?

Martin Campbell: “Well, I’m cheap. No, the thing is, I’ve never done a comic book movie before. Superheroes, I guess, yes, Bond, I guess is a form of superhero, and Zorro obviously is, but I’ve never done a superhero movie before, and I wasn’t even versed in the comic when it came through the door. Once having read them and so forth, it fascinated me about the whole world of Green Lantern, going to another planet, going to the center of the universe, that’s really why I did it.”

“What it is about me? These things aren’t about me, really. These things are a huge team effort by everybody; it’s always handed across to the director that he’s – I’m the guy on the floor certainly, but Donald, my producer, a huge contribution from him as with Greg the writer, and the actors. Unlike a lot of movies, these things are very much a team effort, and in this case, particularly so.”

How do you go from starring in Buried where you were buried in a box the whole film to playing this over the top superhero? What is the difference between doing a small, independent movie to this high-budget Hollywood film?

Ryan Reynolds: “The two movies are more similar than not, actually, in the sense that Buried involved a lot of imagination; the people that I was talking to on the phone the entire time, they’re not on the phone with me. Green Lantern, working and going from a small, wooden box to a large, blue box didn’t feel too dissimilar either. I’d never worked on a movie that required this much imagination. It felt like I was a kid again; everything you’re seeing in this world, you have to imagine. Granted, we do have amazing people that are working behind the scenes, Grant Major, not the least of which who’s our crack production designer who created a lot of the worlds for Lord of the Rings and those things, would come down with visual references so I had an idea what I was looking at. I have to imagine what that is, and then express it through my eyes for the audience, and that was a big challenge. I was definitely happy to be able to get up and walk around, even if I had to wear a crash test dummy suit, for the most part.”

Mark and Peter, can you talk about the prosthetics?

Mark Strong: “Well, I have to bow to Peter on the prosthetics front, because he had a much heavier burden than mine. But suffice it to say, they take a long time to put on, but they’re incredibly effective.”

Peter Sarsgaard: “We shared the same glue. When I finished he was starting, and my passing comment to him was, ‘You’re going to find that you have this thing about the glue. You dream about the glue, you want the glue again, it’s the smell, it’s something about it that’s like, do you really like Tang, or is it just a sense memory?’ I still think about it sometimes – and it was kind of impossible to get off. You’d kind of get it off… Didn’t you find that? A couple of days later, you’d just go like this and there would be a long strand. It’s a challenge, but also I think for me as an actor, either with these different stages of it, right, none of them looked like me, even the beginning doesn’t look like me. It was like a gift. For one, I could tell where I was in the movie. A lot of times you’re in a movie and you’re like, ‘Right, we’re in the part where what happens?’ I had clear stages that told me where I was in the movie, which is nice.”

How did you make this superhero different from the batch of superheroes currently on the big screen?

Ryan Reynolds: “A lot of the current iterations of superheroes are a little bit darker and a little bit more serious in tone. The thing I distilled from diving into that mythology and that universe is that there’s a tone that’s a little bit different. It’s a bit of a throwback in that sense, there’s a lot of fun with the character. He’s not a character that’s overly funny, but he’s witty. I always say he’s that guy who can throw a punch, tell a joke, and kiss a girl. There’s something really iconic and fun about that guy, because anything’s possible with that guy.”

“For me, there wasn’t any particular narrative or storyline because we were telling an origin story in this film. It was mostly just tone, mostly just finding out who Hal Jordan was, and also distilling what it is that the fanboys who love this character, what it is that they love about him and making sure that that can be found up on screen. Because if they love it, there’s a good chance that a broader audience is also going to love it, who’s being introduced to this character for the first time.”

Ryan, what’s your background in general with comics? You’ve played Deadpool and Green Lantern, how many characters from the Marvel and DC Universe do you plan to knock off?

Ryan Reynolds: “By 2014 I’m going to do Wonder Woman, but after that I think I’m gonna hang it up. I’m gonna hang up the lasso and the short, short shorts. Growing up I read a bit of X-Men stuff and I loved Deadpool. My brother introduced me to Deadpool, and that was a character I loved. Beyond that I didn’t know that much about comics. Those are the ones I stuck to.”

“Deadpool is a character I love and I got a great opportunity to play him in more of an ancillary sense in a film, which was great, because it allowed me to jump in and play him, but then not be committed to too much beyond that. I do have that film that’s in development still, and we’ll see what happens with that, but for the most part, Green Lantern’s the first real iconic superhero role that I’ve ever had the great opportunity to play, and I’m pretty damn grateful for that.”

You have a fear of flying, and this film is about the struggle between fear and will. How did you use your will to overcome your fear, in terms of doing the wire work and such?

Ryan Reynolds: “I was initiated earlier. The third day, they basically fired me 200 feet in the air at 60 feet per second, and that got me over it right quick. Without an adult diaper or anything, I just did it, just the regular way. That kind of helped. But then after a while you’re playing on these wires, and they’re so articulate, these things. The technology for that alone is amazing now. You’re moving left and right and up and down and all that stuff, so I was actually getting, dare I say, a little cocky with it by the end. I was wondering if we could actually find some way to transport me back to my hotel each day on the wires. I loved it after a while.”

“The best way to get over [this] is just to do it. The fear of flying in a plane thing, that’s a whole, separate issue. I’m being told to get on a commercial airliner and trust a drunk pilot, and I don’t like that. I can’t see what’s in front of me, and there’s maybe some control issues there mixed with a few little daddy issues…I don’t know. This is not the right place to be talking about this, guys! Come on. Let’s get it together.”

How did you feel seeing the final product?

Ryan Reynolds: For me it was incredible because I was shooting in, basically, a box for a good portion of the movie that was blue screen. To see these guys, these immensely talented artists, who are world builders, create this universe around me that I’m interacting with in a very real way was mind-blowing. I’ve never been a part of anything like that. It was a feat of engineering unto itself. That was pretty spectacular, that first time. I saw it in 3D as well; I was practically weeping. Pretty incredible.”

Mark Strong: “Usually, often in a movie what you’ll do is, you’ll go to see it and you’ll have forgotten what everyone else is doing in the movie. You’ll remember your parts because you shot them, but on this you actually get to see the bits that you’re in that you’d forgotten about because there’s nothing around you while you’re shooting. You’re in a big blue room, and every object is covered in blue or green, so it was amazing to see the environment that you were in, what you were imagining, and seeing it realized. They’ve done such an amazing job. It’s mind-blowing.”

What about seeing yourself in that face?

Peter Sarsgaard: “I’m glad I’m married because I’m not going to get any dates from this movie. The thing that impresses me the most is when it comes right down to it, it all has to be in Martin’s head somehow, and to think there’s a lot of people doing different jobs and it’s incredibly collaborative… There’s people doing CG here and scores there, but there’s a guy that has to make sure that all of those things come together, and like olive oil and garlic, turn into a third thing that is great. I’m just extraordinarily impressed that he managed to contain this in his mind in some way.”

Blake, how did you feel seeing the final product?

Blake Lively: “There’s nothing more I can say than what everybody else said, but it was a very special experience for me because I got to watch this film almost as an audience member. I grew up always a fan of these comic films, and I would come out wanting to fly and kick someone’s butt. Never have I seen a film that I’m in where I’m able to watch it somewhat objectively, and I was surprised throughout the film and cheering. It was a really cool experience to be on screen and see the way that it came together. We saw all of the visual effects, all of the artwork, all of the design, but it’s still seems somehow impossible that it was – it was such a big undertaking that it seemed impossible that this movie would actually come out. We’ve been living with this movie for a year, year and a half now, so I can’t believe that it’s actually here. I’m so excited to share it with everyone because I think it is very special.”

If you were superheroes, what evil would you try to stop in our world?

Blake Lively: “Ryan.”

Ryan Reynolds: “She’d stop me. I’m a pretty ardent environmentalist, so for me it’s all those issues that go along with that under that umbrella: global warming, foreign oil, and oil in general, I would try to correct that.”

Blake Lively: “Especially we were in New Orleans during the oil spill, so we got to see firsthand the effects. I think we would use our will. I think it’s something that’s undermined often, the power of the human will, and also when people come together the change that you could make. I think it’s very easy for people to say, ‘I’m not going to make that big of a difference by myself, so I’m just going to live my life how I’m going to live it because that’s easier.’ But it’s amazing what people can do, and it’s amazing what one person can accomplish. I wish we could all unify our wills more and make a change, because we have messed up our planet a lot, and then we can fix it. But we just have to do it.”

Is that something close to your heart?

Blake Lively: “The more I travel, the more I see these incredible animals that we’re killing off. Even when we did reshoots of Green Lantern in South Africa, I went cage diving with these great white sharks and I was always terrified of them. I thought, ‘Good, get rid of sharks. They’re evil, they’re awful!’ But they’re such incredible creatures, and they’re just as afraid of us as we are of them. They’re nearly extinct. There’s less than a thousand left, and it’s completely messing up the whole structure of the ocean. It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening.”

“I love scuba diving. I’m an avid diver and to see this beautiful world that’s more incredible than any CGI film we could ever make, we’re just destroying, for what? It’s heartbreaking to me.”

Ryan Reynolds: “The message is to cuddle with more sharks.”

Blake, what was the appeal of portraying a character in a superhero movie like this? Your character could have been a wallflower, but she’s a pilot and an executive. What are your thoughts on tackling a strong female character like that?

Blake Lively: “I think Carol is very unique in this genre. She’s an incredibly powerful woman, she’s also a fighter pilot, along with how she runs her father’s aviation company. It’s rare to see such strong women existing as equals amongst men in film, especially in this genre. And I love that, if this franchise continued, she does become a villain. That was also a very, very appealing element to this.”

How did you get the big names to sign on to voice characters?

Martin Campbell: “We had Geoffrey Rush for Tomar-Re and Michael Clarke Duncan as Kilowog. The interesting thing for me was that never having done it before, Donald [De Line] had, of course, with Yogi Bear and so forth. It’s so interesting that even the most talented actor sometimes doesn’t actually fit the body or the character, in this case the digital character that you’re creating, so it’s experimentation. What you do is you have to get people in to – I say test, but you hope the voices go and they give a great performance, but somehow it doesn’t connect with the body of the character that you’ve created. Long story short, Geoffrey Rush, I think is perfect for Tomar-Re, as is Michael Clarke Duncan.”

Martin, you have experience with live-action stunts and special effects. What did you learn from doing your first CGI, blue-screen movie?

Martin Campbell: “You learn an awful lot technically about [it], and I’ve never done it, the only way to learn it is to do it. You can’t read about it, you can’t be told about it. Point is that you have to do it, so from a technical point of view, it’s a learning curve. But, really, the same rules apply in terms of action and in terms of the way you stage the scenes and so forth. To be honest, it’s very similar, certainly in stage and the action, we wanted the action to be tough and hard. We didn’t want Green Lantern to get up having been slung against a wall at 100 miles per hour to just shake his head and go back into the fight, so he does get pushed around and beaten up a little bit, and really has to feel the pain – as it were. In a lot of respects, it was very similar to doing Bond or any other action film.”

It’s always interesting to see villains before they’re villains. We know where Sinestro goes, but what kind of discussions and thought processes did you guys have when it came to how Sinestro was going to be portrayed in this particular story?

Martin Campbell: “It’s the origin story, so of course he was portrayed very truthfully as… In fact, I’ll hand it over to Mark. You can explain your character, and precisely where – I think it was very true to the origin story, and certainly the Hal Jordan origin story.”

Mark Strong: “If you know the comics, you know the direction that he goes in. It’s great to play him before he goes there. I’m not sure that’s always the case. Usually villains are just villains in these things. They’re very straightforward. It’s nice to have him as a hero in this one. I couldn’t really imbue him with anything to do with where he goes after this movie, but what I tried to do was give him characteristics that would lend themselves to being believable, should he decide to go to the dark, or the yellow, side. I couldn’t think about where the stories go. The source material’s so vast, there’s plenty to draw from, but had to really just stick to the script as it was. If we do go somewhere else with it, the hope that he’s a believable character who would go that way.”

Blake, coming from a TV show with a mainly female audience like Gossip Girl and moving into a comic book movie which tends to be more male-leaning, and as one of the two female characters in the movie, why should women watch this movie?

Blake Lively: “I’m always attracted to strong women, and I think Carol is a character I wish was portrayed more on film. It’s so nice to see a woman fighter pilot up there, flying this plane, and I think women will appreciate that because somebody [said to] me, ‘This is a very modern film because now women are strong.’ And I said, ‘Women have always been strong. They’ve always been standing behind the heroic man; it’s just a new idea to see it more on film.'”

“I think women will appreciate that, but I think anybody that goes to a theater, I think you want to sit down and be transported to another world for two hours, and this movie is appealing to everybody. It’s full of heart, humor, action, and the fact that it takes place – it’s not just on planet Earth, but it’s also in the entire galaxy, there’s tons of alien species and different planets, and I don’t care who you are, but it’s going to the cinema like you were as a child and just having your imagination blown open. Also, Ryan is half-nkd a good part of the film.”

She’s a more realistic leading lady, pretty honest, straightforward. Was that you bringing your own energy to it, or was it written that way?

Blake Lively: “It was definitely written that way; that was what was so appealing about Carol. I think in a lot of ways, this film was much more straightforward and honest. We talked earlier about the scene where I first see Hal as the Green Lantern, and every single superhero film, how on Earth do they not see that this is the person they’ve known their whole life, that they’ve been intimate with? You don’t recognize him because he has a four-inch mask on his face? In a lot of ways, […]this movie tackled those things and I think it’s a really refreshing take on such a big film full of fantasy, to have those moments where you actually acknowledge what every other comic film doesn’t. That bled through to each of our characters, and the fact that Hal is a superhero but he’s also very, very human. He’s flawed and doesn’t know if he wants to be a superhero. I think that that’s incredibly unique and that’s why I think this story’s so special, because you can really connect with the people at the heart of this story.”

What’s the difference between filming a character like Green Lantern in comparison to Superman, Batman, or other well-known characters? Is there risk involved since audiences aren’t as familiar with the character?

Martin Campbell: “I don’t know if there’s a risk involved. The thing is, Superman’s been around – the comic’s been around a long time and so have the movies. They’ve done a lot of Superman movies, as they have with Batman. You could say that Iron Man was a second-tier character, and it turned out very successfully. I simply think it’s down to the movie itself, and whether people enjoy the movie, like the movie, are involved in the movie, whether it entertains them. From that point of view, the movie has to stand alone. Whether or not the superhero is second-tier or first-tier, I think is irrelevant.”

“I don’t think he’s necessarily a greater or lesser superhero either than Superman or Batman, but I think it was said earlier that their problems are all Earth-bound, so they’re much easier to film and do. Obviously Green Lantern deals with space, and I don’t think up until now the technology’s been able to catch up with the vision. I don’t think he’s a lesser character, I just think it’s the way it’s been made over the years. It’s much easier to make a Superman or a Batman than a Green Lantern.”

Mark, was part of the deal that the role would get bigger in sequels? How did you ground him so you really believe they’re in space, but you have to train this guy to be a Lantern?

Mark Strong: “I couldn’t do any research on aliens. I don’t know any aliens, so I didn’t know what kind of a guy he was. All I could do was use human characteristics, and it was very obvious to me he’s a kind of military commander-type figure who is very wary of this new Lantern and feels like his priority is the Corps. And if this guy’s going to be the weak link in the Corps, then he’s going to have to do something about it.”

“The way he’s drawn, it’s a muscular drawing, you have to try and bring an element of that to the way you play him. That’s what I tried to do. As far as where we go from this film, it was never discussed. It’s there in the source material, but this was the movie we were making.”

When did you shoot the extra scene?

Mark Strong: “That was shot speculatively, I think. There was an idea that there would be an introduction of the idea that the yellow ring corrupts him. Perhaps it was felt – Martin and Donald should answer this question – but perhaps it was felt in the body of the film, it wasn’t the right time to introduce it. So actually the thing to do is introduce everybody to the mythology and the story, and then give them that little taste. Certainly the fanboys who know about it will be excited, and anybody else, at least they have an opportunity of understanding where it could go from here.”

Is Peter’s character as gross looking in the comics or did you make that up?

Martin Campbell: “He was actually more extreme in the comics. The head was actually the size of this room, certainly in the comics.”

Peter Sarsgaard: “We had that one that was quite large.”

Ryan Reynolds: “Peter walked out of his trailer at a perfect right angle.

Peter Sarsgaard: “Yeah, we tested one that I was like, ‘This is… I can’t.’ I couldn’t do it.”

Are we alone in the world? Do you believe that there is life out in space?

Blake Lively: “We actually know the secret to this, so you’re asking the two right people.”

Ryan Reynolds: “I’ve worked with aliens. I know. I don’t know. I wonder if we’re alone. I’m just going to plead the Fifth on that. I’m not going Shirley MacLaine on you.”

Was the opening narration sort of your own “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?”

Martin Campbell: “No, that was designed around introducing an audience that knows nothing about Green Lantern into the world. We realized we had to introduce people who’ve never read the comic to that world.”

A lot of the film takes place on Earth and not in space. Was that a balance you found in the cut?

Martin Campbell: “It’s very like the origin story. I don’t know if you’ve read the comic, the origin story comic. It’s very similar. A lot of it on Earth, Hal Jordan, all that stuff. It follows pretty faithfully.”

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